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Make Your Own Madison Traditon

Ah, the first week of school…It seems like just yesterday that I was a nervous freshman moving into the dorms, trying to find my classes, and eager to get into the routine of college life. Welcome Week was a blast and I felt more like I was at summer camp than a university. I met a lot of great friends who lived right down the hall and knew I was in for a great year. Once classes started, things settled down. That is, until the next week when I realized I wanted to join any and every group I came across at the Student Org Fair, become a Badger Volunteer, find a job, and still have a social life. If this sounds at all familiar, don’t panic. A lot of students are overwhelmed with all of the opportunities available to them here. While extra-curriculars are great, if I can provide one piece of advice to those new to Madison, it would be to take advantage of certain “unstructured” activities.

The university has so much to offer and as students, we have many traditions. On select weekends in fall, you’ll find a sea of red clad football fans making its way towards Camp Randall to cheer on the Badgers. As the school year winds down and we approach summer, you may notice the term “Mifflin” lingering in the air. Our school provides a great sense of community, but so does the city of Madison itself. I suggest exploring something you’re passionate about, or even something completely new. The first few weeks on campus are a great time to grab some friends, take advantage of the warm weather, and begin some of your own traditions that will continue throughout your undergraduate career.

Last summer, I talked to my freshman year roommate on Facebook, but we didn’t meet in person until move-in day. As we got to know each other, we found out that we were both interested in sustainable agriculture, cooking, and baking; we were just foodies in general. For a long time, Food Network was the only thing written on our channel list on the wall. Because of this, we became regulars at the Saturday morning farmer’s market. Fun fact: I don’t think we ever once bought any vegetables, just pastries. When we arrived, we’d head straight to Stella’s Bakery to purchase a chocolate Danish each. I’d get a cup of coffee from Steep & Brew and then we’d start our stroll around the capitol. Those mornings were always so relaxing, looking at all of the fresh produce, baked goods, and flowers, and chatting with the farmers about their work. I always enjoyed the break away from campus to ease me into the weekend.

I was really involved with on-campus activities last year and now that I’ve returned as a sophomore, I’m even busier than ever. Even so, I still find time for the little things that brighten my day. I love the Monroe Street area, so I take a weekly shopping trip to Trader Joe’s, sometimes stopping at Barrique’s for a cup of coffee. Yesterday, I tried a sandwich from one of the food carts on East Campus Mall for the first time. It was delicious and I definitely recommend that you sample some of the cuisines there while you can. State Street and Capitol Square also have great restaurants, like Casa de Lara, Graze (check out that delicious burger!), and The Old Fashioned. The list of places I want to try is never-ending.

If fitness is your thing, Madison is great for biking, hosts a ton of races, and has beautiful natural areas for walking or hiking. Like history? Check out the Wisconsin Historical Society across from Memorial Union. Its home to a large library, which is a great lesser-known study spot. Whatever it is that you’re into, take advantage of the fact that you’re here in this great city, so get involved, and have fun!


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